“Injustice 2,” the next chapter in the DC Comics fighting game series is here, as is the evolution of the fighting game experience. If you played the original, it’s hard to believe that it released more than four years ago on the last generation of console. “Injustice: Gods Among Us” was eventually ported onto the PS4 and Xbox One when those consoles launched. “Injustice 2” attempts to break new ground for the genre, all while bringing a new story for the beloved DC Comics cast.


Netherrealm Studio, the team behind the “Mortal Kombat” series, has nearly perfected the art of making fighting games that can appeal to players who don’t have to be all-in on the fighting game scene. These games manage to stay accessible to novice players thanks to their story mode and undeniable style, but still have enough depth to have a competitive scene for those who study character’s frames and hitboxes. “Injustice 2” is no exception to this rule. It’s even more appealing to the casual fight fan than some of its Netherrealm predecessors.

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It’s been nearly three years since “Mario Kart 8” graced the now-defunct Nintendo Wii U. The game advanced the beloved racing series with some new tracks and a nice layer of graphical polish, but it lacked legitimate substance until downloadable content added it months after its launch. Now, Nintendo is taking the game for a victory lap on the new Nintendo Switch. “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” is what “Mario Kart 8” should’ve been in the first place.

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The return of the collectathon genre is here in “Yooka-Laylee.” The game was made by Playtonic Games, a group of former Rare employees. Rare was best known for games like “Perfect Dark,” “Diddy Kong Racing” and many other popular games for the Nintendo 64. “Yooka-Laylee” takes players back to the style of adventure games that have been long lost.

Decades ago, back when games were played on cartridges on the Nintendo 64, there was an entire genre called collectathons. They usually stared one or two cartoon characters who embarked on an adventure that involved collecting a large number of items scattered around a game world. “Banjo-Kazooie,” “Donkey Kong 64,” “Conker’s Bad Fur Day” and even “Super Mario 64” to an extent fell into this category.

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The “Mass Effect” series helped define a console generation with its choose-your-own-adventure style of storytelling mixed with tight and enjoyable third-person combat. The space odyssey went through ups and downs and growing pains as the developers at BioWare tried new things and experimented throughout its trilogy. The biggest complaint that always hovered over its legacy was a botched climax of the third game. Now this year, “Mass Effect” is back with “Mass Effect: Andromeda” and a polarizing ending would be the least of this game’s problems.  

“Mass Effect: Andromeda” almost has the makings of a reboot. It’s a game that mechanically resembles the “Mass Effect” trilogy, but it has the sheen of an off-brand parody. Animations and weird facial ticks are a near constant distraction, and buggy A.I. disrupts decent combat. In a game where 50% of the gameplay is looking at people’s faces, facial animations are important. But the biggest issue that plagues “Andromeda” is its slow pacing. Bugs and a general lack of polish are far more forgivable when a game meets players halfway with a compelling story. “Andromeda” can’t even conjure that until about the 20-hour mark of a 30-hour epic.

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RE7CoverThere are few video game franchises that have accomplished what “Resident Evil” (“RE”) has in its 20-year tenure. It spawned seven popular games in the core series, plus over a dozen spinoffs and remakes. People are even still making (and apparently seeing) “Resident Evil” movies. When considering the Mount Rushmore of horror video games, “RE” almost certainly makes the cut.

But over those 20 years, the series has lost its way. Most fans of the series will agree that it peaked with “Resident Evil 4” all the way back in 2005. Since then, “RE” exchanged horror for action. But Capcom seems to recognize that the series is in need of a reinvention. This is evident in the details all the way down to the game’s subtitle “Biohazard,” which harkens back to the original game’s Japanese title.

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DeadRising4The original “Dead Rising” was not a good video game. It was a glorified tech demo that showed of the power of the Xbox 360 by throwing a bunch of zombies on the screen at once. For some strange reason, it focused on the most mundane and frustrating gameplay mechanics in all of video games: the escort mission. Fortunately, Capcom gave the game a second, third and now a fourth chance.


Since that first game, the series has made great strides in improving what works and taking out what doesn't, all while keeping its zany sense of humor and slapstick. “Dead Rising 4” is a shining example of just how far the series has come. Gone are the days of the stress of a constant ticking timer, slow progression, and a mind-bogglingly outdated save system. “Dead Rising 4” is all about player enjoyment, whether it’s mowing down zombies with a sledgehammer with grenades strapped to it, or putting on an mechanized Exo Suit to bring the hurt with metal fists. “Dead Rising 4” is a good time from beginning to end.

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NoMansSkyCoverThe expansive universe of “No Man’s Sky” has grabbed headlines since the game was announced three years ago at the 2013 Video Game Awards. The space exploration game features 18 quintillion planets, each with its own unique lifeforms, ecosystems and fauna for players to discover. To put that into perspective, there is virtually no way the game’s player base will ever see everything there is to discover in “No Man’s Sky.” There has never been another video game like this one.

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Dark Souls 3 Cover


The “Dark Souls” series has become synonymous with one thing: punishing difficulty. But the series isn’t just for masochists who crave a more difficult brand of video game. “Dark Souls 3” has a comparable difficulty to its predecessors, sure, but the experience is much more than a rigorous loop of trial and error.


The “Dark Souls” experience is about discovery, progression and success that grants a sense of satisfaction that is severely lacking in much of the adventure genre. “Dark Souls 3” impeccably improves on the structure of the original “Dark Souls” and “Dark Souls 2” all while managing to make the experience more accessible to newcomers.

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Wednesday, 16 March 2016 11:46

'EA UFC 2' review - champ in training

EAUFCcoverIt’s not easy to defend EA’s first attempt at the UFC series that released two years ago. “EA UFC” was the publisher’s second attempt at an MMA game (remember “EA MMA”?) and the first with UFC branding. “EA UFC 2” is EA Canada’s second chance to bring glory back to the combat sports game genre.

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TheDivisionCoverIt’s been a turbulent road leading to the release of “Tom Clancy’s The Division.” It survived numerous delays that pushed its original release date from 2014 to March 7 of this year. The open world, third-person shooter is finally in the hands of fans, and the extra time spent developing the project seems to have been for the better.

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